Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Celiac Disease Awareness Month - May 13, 2014

Each day this month, I will be posting something about Celiac Disease.

Day 13:

Earlier this week, I described the diagnosis process for celiac disease. Today, I'd like to talk about why it is so important.

First, I understand the frustration of the process. There are so many ways for the process to go wrong--usually due to errors made by medical professionals. In their defense, it is usually because they don't understand the process correctly themselves. It is common for the wrong blood tests to be ordered or too few biopsies to be taken during the endoscopy. This is only two possibilities out of a multitude of others.

The most common question people ask is why they should be put through the testing process when they could simply start a gluten-free diet and see if they feel better. The reason the "gold standard" diagnosis is important is because it is possible to feel better on a gluten-free diet and not have celiac disease. The gluten-free diet could cause a temporary relief of symptoms for other conditions which would prolong the diagnosis. That could cause serious medical repercussions.

Unfortunately, all three steps are needed for proper diagnosis also. The blood test could be positive, but without damage to the villi in the small intestine, the positive test more than likely is caused by something else. If the blood test is negative, but there is damage to the villi, then it is more than likely caused by something else. The third step of determining the response to the gluten free diet is vital to confirm it is actually celiac disease, but it is very rare to have a positive blood test and biopsy and not have celiac disease.

There is currently no single test to 100% confirm celiac disease.

Now I'm going to add my opinion in here. I think that if you have "typical" symptoms of celiac disease, but your blood test and/or biopsy were negative and doctors are unable to find any other cause, I think it is perfectly acceptable to try a gluten-free diet to see what happens.

Do you agree or disagree with me?

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